A tree that stood in my backyard seemed fine to the naked eye. But it was faulty . . . weak . . . vulnerable. It was plagued on the inside. Beneath the bark, unknown and unseen, it was slowly being eaten away. So, under the intense pressure of a storm, it splintered . . . and fell with a mighty crash.
Faults, under severe conditions, often surface.
We all carry in our inner selves, in varying degrees, some form of weakness inflicted by the fallenness of this world. Some we try to keep hidden, in silence—shielded from nosey eyes and worsening woundedness. But when pressure rises and assails, and the outer shield wears thin, they seep—or sometimes gush—out.
Faults, under severe conditions, often surface. And with it, a choice emerges. You can choose to acknowledge it or ignore it. Further reveal it or hide it. Treat it or be subjected to its festering. Face it . . . or fear its exposure.
Living under the stress of our current circumstances can reveal brokenness we may be harboring. But in the hands of a merciful God, weakness is made stronger. Better.
God does a refining work in us when we allow Him access. When we honestly open ourselves up to Him. But, as I wrote in my previous post, it calls for persistent prayer Otherwise, we continue to cover up those faulty places—making them worse. And ourselves more vulnerable to their control.
But just because they can get worse, doesn’t mean they can’t get better.
You may know your wounds and weakness—and fall prey to lies that tend to shame. But, as Dr. Henry Cloud said, “Look at the negative thoughts as a signal of a problem, not a statement of ultimate truth.” Ultimate truth is that the Lord is redeeming all things, the Spirit is transforming you, and God’s grace strengthens the weak and wounded.
Weakness is not necessarily a bad thing. Especially if you are made better for it. By it. But it takes the help of another.
I have been confronted, as we all have, with a wide variety of foreign experiences here in 2020. In a few of them, I have felt emotions I didn’t understand. Anger. Fear. Anxiety.
Where was it coming from? And why?
I probed along those fault lines—wanting to bring them further into the light while already exposed.
I needed to go to God, in all openness and honesty, for Him to help me uncover the wound long buried . . . forgotten. I knew that if I didn’t address the issue, it would remain to further fester. And reemerge.
No longer could I pretend . . . pose . . . or falsely posture myself before God. He knew the faults and flaws that needed purging. And He could be trusted to do so in lovingkindness.
I had to come clean to receive His cleansing.
Two trees came out of its trunk. The first one that fell (which I am referring to above) hit the house and landed across my yard. The tree service that came to deal with it left the other half of the tree standing. They insisted it would be fine. Wrong! It was only a matter of time before it, too, fell. And when it did, it fell across my yard, my next-door neighbor’s yard, completely blocked the street (just missing a car parked on the curb), and landed in another neighbor’s yard, brushing his mailbox. Thankfully, no one was injured, and it didn’t cause any damage. But it could have been prevented, if it had been properly dealt with the first time.
The difficult conditions we find ourselves living under are wearing us thin in places, bringing underlying (possibly dormant, and even surprising) issues to the surface. Convicted by the Spirit, I saw it as prime opportunity—to place myself before my Father, while deep wounds and flaws were out in the open, to treat and apply a healing balm of grace.
The thing about faults under pressure, they can be made stronger. Or weaker and more problematic. The hardest and most uncomfortable choice is to reckon with them with the Lord. Allow Him to strengthen what is weak, refine what is rough, and forgive faults and failure. Nothing is so messy, so ugly, to turn Him away. As Unspoken sings, “He turns problems big as planets into pebbles” when we bring them to Him.
While wrestling in prayer—humbly asking those hard questions and being open before Him—He revealed flaws and helped me to better understand myself . . . my triggers. Hopefully, under pressure from the next surging storm, they won’t come prowling . . . and growling. Rather, they have been refined and polished—to threaten no more.
Let it be said, when we pray for God to make us more like Jesus, He does!
God holds true to His promise to continue His work in us—renewing and transforming us into the likeness of His Son. True, it is often through testing and trial we are most refined—when we cooperate, that is.
The trials of 2020 are undoubtedly wreaking great havoc. But God can make us better for it.
In a time of confusion and uncertainty, God provides—to refine, renew, and recenter—when we draw near in prayer.
Persist, Christian—for He is faithful . . . and merciful.
He will polish what is cracked—to a shine that reflects Him.
This is the continuing prayer saga introduced in my previous post, When we fail to persist in prayer, the hard only gets harder. More installments may be forthcoming, as prayers—and the world—persist.